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i3 quake terminal

Whoever has played enough videogames may have seen that few have a drop-down console, most prominent example being Quake. That console is instantaneously shown (and hidden) using a single key stroke and dropped down from the top of the screen. The in-game console is similar to shells in Unix-like systems. Meaning they’re a command-line interface with a specific command set and not a window that accesses or/and modifies the running code. There’ve been a few Linux terminals that mimic the behavior of those consoles. Well-known examples are Guake, Tilda, and Yakuake

Rather using such a specialized terminal, i3 users can make use of scratchpad functionality for a similar result. Similar as in that there’s no drop-down animation that other options have. Instead the terminal appears and disappears in top half of the display. For binding that “drop-down” terminal to grave accent (similar to Quake) the following may be added to i3’s config.

for_window [instance="scratchterm"] \
  move scratchpad; \
  scratchpad show; \
  resize set 80 ppt 40 ppt; \
  move absolute position 283 0

bindsym grave exec --no-startup-id scratchterm

Where scratchterm is the following script found in $PATH.

#!/bin/sh
if ! i3-msg -t get_tree | grep -q '"instance":"scratchterm"'; then
  urxvt -name scratchterm &
else
  i3-msg "[instance=\"scratchterm\"] scratchpad show"
fi

If no terminal with scratchterm class name is being run, it runs urxvt with specific name, then i3 moves it to scratchpad, shows it, resizes and moves it to top of display. The script may also be edited to open another terminal than urxvt. On subsequent calls it just shows the scratchpad.

Size and position should be specified according to preference and display resolution (mine is 1366x768). An interesting thing here is that someone can move the terminal using i3’s mod key and drag-n-drop. In order for the location to be reset someone will have to run the resize and move command. A simpler way is modifying the above script to include such “reset” functionality.

#!/bin/sh
if ! i3-msg -t get_tree | grep -q '"instance":"scratchterm"'; then
  urxvt -name scratchterm &
else
  if [ "$1" == "reset" ]; then
    i3-msg "[instance=\"scratchterm\"]
      resize set 80 ppt 40 ppt,
      move absolute position 283 0"
  else
    i3-msg "[instance=\"scratchterm\"] scratchpad show"
  fi
fi

Then someone may run the following command to reset size and location.

scratchterm reset

This can be also be bound to i3’s config, for example to Alt + grave.

set $Alt Mod1
bindsym $Alt+grave exec --no-startup-id scratchterm reset

Some more featureful i3-specific alternatives will be using one of i3-quickterm, i3-quake, i3-quaketerm, and i3quake. The first three are Python programs whereas the last is written in Go. The last actually sets up the window and then i3’s scratchpad show is used. Therefore it can be used in place of calling urxvt directly and for_window in i3 config. For a window manager-independent way to do it tdrop can help, which also comes with various other goodies. As a downside it depends on few X tools (xprop, xwininfo, xdotool). A barebones alternative as in above can be done just using xdotool.

TODO: Check whether instructions can be adapted for sway